The Defence Minister, Ehud Barak has announced his planned retirement from political life.
It was in August 2002 while I was in boot camp that a new recruit to Sayeret Matkal broke Ehud Barak’s record for the obstacle course. The previous record had stood for almost 40 years and gives a very small insight into just how impressive a soldier Ehud Barak was.
Posessed with a very high IQ (rumoured to be 180) and being a gifted athlete Barak also had the perfect mentality for a soldier. Aggressive and courageous he showed an entire generation of Israel’s elite special forces the way to operate. As a general in the IDF he was every bit as impressive and would have been remembered as one of the best Chiefs of Staff we have ever had, if he hadn’t then gone into politics.
Barak managed, almost single handedly to turn Israel’s most popular and important political party into a shadow of its former self. The man was as catastrophic as a politician as he was successful as a soldier. Perhaps never before has Israel seen a politician so eager to ignore the voices of his own constituency in the quest to hold a ministerial position. Ignoring the left wing hopes of all of those who voted Avodah 4 years ago Barak joined Bibi’s very Right leaning coalition ensuring that he spent 4 years as Minister of Defence. He also served to tear the heart out of the Labour party which he promptly abandoned when opposition to his flawed leadership became too great for him to bear. His long laboured departure from political life comes not a moment too soon.
Ehud Barak’s exemplary service in the IDF is now a mere footnote to a positively disastrous political career. I salute him as a soldier (for what that’s worth) and despise him as a politician. On this glorious occasion of his departure from politics I am reminded of the words directed at Neville Chamberlain in his last days as Prime Minister of Great Britain;
“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go“